lessons my students teach me

Last Tuesday I asked my students, would you rather play a sport or watch one. As always their answers gave me more than I expected.

S: I’d rather play. You learn more when you do something.
What we know a teachers and learners. We need time to do the work. Just watching will not make us proficient.

E: It depends. If it is something I know how to play then playing. And it depends if it they are playing at my skill level. I don’t like it when I’m pushed to do something I am not able to.
Ah, the zone of proximal development. If E was asked to play with handball with 4th graders, she’s in. But if you put her in a basketball game with people who are way above her skill level, no way.

A: I want to play! It’s more fun to do.
Yes, fun matters. It keeps us engaged.

H: Watching it is important. That is how you learn when you are new at something. I’d rather study it for a while. To understand the rules before I try and get really confused.
Mentors matter. We study them before try it ourselves.

C: I think a mix is a good idea. Watch then try. Then watch again.
Go back to the mentor texts to revise.

X: I’d rather watch. It’s stressful. If I make a mistake it’s all on me.I might do the wrong thing.
Low stakes opportunities are crucial. When we learn we are vulnerable.

I was not prepared for this :

D: Neither. Right now it isn’t safe to go to games or play them.

Whoa. Of course. Like us, our children have been at home. Restricted from so much because it isn’t safe. They know what is going on. And now we are asking them to go back to school.

It’s hard for adults to flip the switch. Yesterday was dangerous. Shelter in place. Today, it’s all good. Open things up. Why wouldn’t a child feel a bit nervous about the prospect of reentering the world.

As much as I wanted to reassure D, I understood his concern and me telling him it’s ok, don’t worry, experts say… feels wrong. Re entering the world isn’t just about moving out of the purple tier. It is an emotional family decision. My heart aches for all of my students and their families as they make the decision to return to school or continue in remote learning.

Last Tuesday, I learned about my students. By asking a question I learned about how they best learn, how they internalize expectations, how they feel about reentering the world, and how wise they are.

Day 12, Slice of Life Challenge. Read more slices here.

Asking students accessible questions is centering.

This week I asked my kiddos these questions:
Monday: What’s your favorite type of birthday cake?
Tuesday: Would your rather play or watch sports?
Wednesday: If you could turn one food that is healthy into an unhealthy food, so your family wouldn’t make you eat it, what would it be?
Thursday: If you could mute anyone in your household who would it be?

Today: If you could change one thing about this class – that is changeable – what would you change?

11 thoughts on “lessons my students teach me

  1. So perceptive, how you reflect on their responses and extrapolate teaching principles. It is so hard to take the time to ask meaty questions and really listen to everyone’s answers but you remind us how valuable. And your other questions might show up as additional posts!

    • I love the question you asked and the varied responses. It was great how you related each one to learning, teaching, and growing in a classroom community I think your reflections are exceptional here. Perhaps consider keeping a journal of your questions, student responses, and your connections with teaching and learning. Gather permission to publish from the parents of your students. You may have a book here!

      • I keep the questions in my plan book. Every year I make new ones for the group I’m with. I’ve been thinking about how this would be a nice tool for teachers. You’re absolutely right about permissions. Thank you for the feedback.

  2. It’s always eye-opening when someone answers in a way that you did not anticipate. It broadens our perspective.

  3. You really listen to your students. This is how we build relationships and get to really know them. Your insights great. I love the question about changing something changeable. I might try it!

  4. Julieanne, this could be a book. Each one of those reflections could expand. I love how you crafted this. And once again, I’m sharing your questions with some teachers who have appreciated them.

  5. I asked the same question last week inspired by upcoming March Madness – sit and watch b-ball or go outside and dribble. I love how you added student replies, your thinking in BOLD and kindly included all your questions at the end. Love hearing your students’ replies. Love this slice!

  6. Asking and listening…hearing what they say and internalizing it to alter attitudes or perceptions, that’s learning—for us. I love your daily questions, too. Low stakes and, I am sure, revealing and FUN! I’ve heard, and read, in the course of this year so many comments about feeling safe that I cannot do anything else but be there for them and carry on. Isn’t that what they need beyond all else?Thanks for Friday thinking.

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